Yesterday was an odd day for me. I felt tired and drained all day. I just couldn’t seem to generate the energy to really get going. Instead, I dragged through the day in a bit of a fog. What I was experiencing is not uncommon. It is the emotional let down after some big event in life.
I had been planning for and anticipating Holy Week for several months. Palm Sunday was a fitting beginning to that significant week. Maundy Thursday challenged us to enter into the Passover meal with Jesus and the disciples, as Jesus redefined its meaning. Good Friday was a time to reflect upon the enormous cost of our salvation, as we gathered around the cross. Easter Sunday was a glorious day of celebration of our risen Lord! Then came Easter Monday. I think the British have it right. They have made Easter Monday a national holiday; a day to reboot from Holy Week.
We are not alone in feeling the emotional letdown after Easter. We wrongly assume that after the first Resurrection Sunday the disciples were energized, on board, and ready to press forward. But they were not. In fact for the next 40 days, Jesus continued to appear to the disciples to encourage them and to prepare them for their role as the leaders of the infant church. Even after Jesus’ ascension, it was another ten days before the Holy Spirit came in power and the church was born.
The most telling story of the emotional letdown of the disciples is found in the Gospel of John. Peter and the others had encountered the risen Jesus for themselves. But instead of embracing this new reality, they decided to go back to their old way of life.
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John 21:1-3
The disciples were excited, at first, about the resurrection, but they had not yet connected it to their personal lives. So in the emotional letdown of the experience, they went back to what they knew best; fishing. Jesus wasn’t about to leave them there, so he came to them in the midst of their confusion and disappointment. He orchestrated a second miraculous catch of fish, just as he had done at the beginning of his ministry, when he had called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him.
Still, Peter felt ashamed of his denial of Jesus, and unworthy to continue Jesus’ work. It was there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus fully reinstated Peter, and commissioned him to lead the church forward. (John 21:15-22)
I often feel as Peter did; unworthy to lead others on this essential faith journey. After the emotional high of Holy Week, my resources are drained. Instead of my spirit being buoyant, it is sagging. I feel like retreating to my workshop and making sawdust. It is at these times that Jesus comes to me and encourages me to continue to live in the new reality of the resurrection.
Peter had to leave his nets a second time, and follow Jesus. We are all faced with the on-going challenge of leaving our nets, and following Jesus in this new reality of resurrection living.